SNP activists will use a debate at the party’s conference this month to demand the Scottish Government introduces an outright legal ban on fracking.

Campaign group SNP Members Against Unconventional Oil and Gas (Smaug) will put down a motion calling on ministers to bring in a law to outlaw the process.

Dr Iain Black, of Smaug, told The National: “We will be putting down a topical resolution to the SNP conference calling for the Scottish Government to use its legal powers to ban fracking once and for all in order to protect communities and the environment in Scotland from the adverse effects of this practice.”

The move comes after a legal opinion was published last month stating that Holyrood has powers to legalise a ban.

A moratorium on the controversial process has been in place since 2015 with ministers using planning laws to stop the process.

In October 2017, the Government said there was an “effective ban” but a legal challenge was mounted by petrochemical firm Ineos.

The Court of Session said ministers had not imposed a ban and had instead an “emerging and unfinalised planning policy expressing no support on the part of the Scottish Government” for fracking.

A legal opinion published by Aidan O’Neill QC in March suggested Holyrood has the legislative competence to pass a legal ban.

It also found doing so would be less likely to result in successful legal challenges from companies with an interest in the industry.

Commenting at the time, Friends of the Earth Scotland, who commissioned O’Neill, said the Scottish Government must now act to definitively ban fracking.

“Communities on the frontline of this dirty industry have been waiting for over four years for the Scottish Government to bring its long drawn out process on unconventional oil and gas to an end,” head of campaigns Mary Church said at the time. “It is time for ministers to live up to their rhetoric and legislate to ban fracking for good.”

Ministers planned to set out their finalised policy by the end of March. A further consultation process is to take place after the Easter recess.